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Alliance chief warns Government not to ‘dumb down’ commissioning reforms

By Gareth Iacobucci

GP consortia leaders feel 'betrayed' by the on-going listening exercise on the health bill that is becoming hijacked by by those with vested interests in watering down GP-led commissioning, the NHS Alliance has warned.

Speaking at a joint King's Fund NHS Alliance conference on Thursday, NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon said GPs were in danger of being drowned out by secondary care colleagues and those with 'vested interests' during debates around the health bill.

He added that many GP pathfinders felt 'betrayed' by the listening exercise onthe legislation currently taking place, and voiced his concern that GPs were being sidelined GPs from the discussion.

Dr Dixon said: 'GP consortia and GP consortia leaders have got a serious job to do, which is not helped by sniping from the sides or threats of destabilisation of many vested interests who are opposed to clinical leadership, primary care or decentralisation.'

'Everyone agrees that the NHS needs to change and improve; dumbing down GP commissioning and straight jacketing its leaders is not the way forward.'

Dr Dixon was also critical of the Government's Future Forum panel, which he said had a depressingly familiar feel – with GPs outnumbered by managers and secondary care colleagues, and was equally scathing of the Prime Minister's number 10 health advisory group.

He said: 'My email is almost burning hot with emails from consortia leaders, using words like "betrayed". They feel they've put their necks on the block and suddenly, their told, "take your bat home, we're going to have a nice little discussion with all sorts of very interested parties"'.

'A very depressing situation it is too. We have a reform group, with 45 people, where once again, the number of consultants and managers outnumber the number of primary care clinicians.'

'If that wasn't bad enough, we then have an advisory group at number 10 which consists of all the very people who landed us in the mess we're in in the first place.'

The Alliance is currently inviting contributions to its own listening exercise, which it has set up to ensure the views of primary care clinicians and other health care professionals are heard.

Dr Michael Dixon